YARMOUTH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Has a lower speed limit slowed drivers down on I-295? In March, the Maine DOT lowered the limit to 65 on the highway between Topsham and South Portland.
That was in response to an increase in accidents after the speed limits had been raised to 70, and cars and trucks were typically going faster. But has the lower limit reduced speeds?
The State Police and the Maine DOT say its too early to tell. They don’t have any statistics yet on either accidents of average speeds. But a veteran state trooper told NEWS CENTER he doesn’t see any real impact from the lower speed limit.
“I would say there hasn’t been a decrease in accidents or traffic incidents. I’m optimistic that will change but don’t think it has,” said Trooper Marvin Hinkley, who has been patrolling 295 for twenty years.
Drivers, too, said they think there are as many speeders as ever.
“They fly by me,” said Mike Perham of Yarmouth, who also said he believes the lower limit has led to more traffic congestion at the southern end of the highway, even extending into Falmouth.
Dave Moore, from North Yarmouth, said he thinks the real problem on I-295 is distracted drivers, not speeders.
Trooper Hinkley said he wants drivers to not follow the car in front too closely. He said to “leave at least a two-second gap” between you and the vehicle in front, to allow time to react to sudden traffic changes.
The Maine DOT said it will be gathering data on speeds over the next two months, using radar built into many of the “45 mile per hour” warning signs. The DOT is also studying the future of I-295, and said that plans will include more electronic message signs and other measures to alert drivers and help manage traffic flow. But DOT spokesman Ted Talbot said their plans will not include adding more lanes to the highway.
He said that study should be finished sometime this fall.